You Want Additional Treatment Options
When all the treatments dont seem to be helping, you need some options and an ENT specialist will be able to provide that care. Maybe you have been on antibiotics for a while, and although sometimes they can help, there are times they dont.
A specialist may prescribe a combination of treatments. They can determine if the infection is bacterial or instead an uncontrolled inflammation which may require other care.
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How Is Sinusitis Spread
You can get it the same way you get cold and flu by breathing it in or passing it from your hands to your mouth after touching something. Viruses get in the air after someone who is sick sneezes or coughs. They also can be passed on when someone shakes hands with someone who is sick or touches a doorknob or anything else the sick person has touched.
To keep from getting a virus, wash your hands often with soap and water. Try not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. Try to avoid people you have cold and flu-like symptoms.
If you have sinusitis, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands to avoid making anyone sick.
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But Is It Still A Cold Flu Allergies Or Even Covid
Sinus infections do share symptoms with colds, the flu and COVID-19. The key thing to remember about sinusitis is that it usually doesnt happen without something taking place first. A sinus infection is caused by inflammation that plugs up your sinuses and causes a backup of fluid the kind of situation that can only really happen as the result of a cold, allergies or other similar condition.
So, if you do find yourself having symptoms of sinusitis but havent been sick with anything else recently, its worth it to see if youre tracking with other signs of a cold or the flu. You should also take a quick inventory to see if you have any early symptoms of COVID-19. If so, get tested and get treatment as soon as possible. With early detection, you can get the medications necessary to have the best chances of getting better faster.
If youve been sneezing with a stuffy or runny nose along with irritated, watery eyes and itchy ears all without a fever you might be dealing with seasonal allergies. If that sounds more like what you have, especially if theyre symptoms that only happen during certain times of the year, check in with your primary care doctor. They can help confirm if youre dealing with allergies, prescribe medications and connect you with an allergist.
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Nasal Saline Washes And Topical Nasal Corticosteroids
Additional treatment options include nasal saline washes, which help move thick secretions from the nasal passages, and topical nasal corticosteroid sprays that reverse inflammation and swelling. The latter also effectively shrink and prevent nasal polyps. Corticosteroid sprays do not get absorbed into the bloodstream and can be used for extended periods without the risk of dependency.
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Nasal Polyps Or Other Soft Tissue Obstructions
Sometimes, for reasons that are unclear, the thin tissue lining the nasal passages develop small, benign tumors. We call these nasal polyps. As you know, it does not take much to obstruct the airway, so even a single polyp can lead to significant airway and breathing issues including chronic snoring as well as recurring sinus infections. Most often though, people with polyp-related sinusitis have multiple polyps obstructing the nasal passages.
Fortunately, we can remove nasal polyps or other soft tissue obstructions using minimally-invasive procedures such as nasal airway remodeling.
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Managing Your Chronic Sinusitis Symptoms
If you have chronic sinusitis, your doctor may ask you to see an allergist, an ENT, or both.
They can help you get started with treatment, but there is a lot you can do to manage sinus problems on your own:
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep your mucus thin and flowing
- Use steam or hot compresses to loosen up thick mucus secretions
- Keep you environment moist by using a clean humidifier
- Use over-the-counter saline nasal sprays or irrigations to open nasal and sinus passages
- Avoid overuse of over-the-counter decongestant sprays that can cause rebound congestion
Remember that sinusitis symptoms could be due to a sinus infection, but they also might be the result of an allergy or fungus.
Your doctor can help you find out the true cause and get you to the right specialist for treatment.
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Steroid Or Corticosteroid Sprays
These sprays shrink swelling in the nasal passages. Some steroid sprays are available over the counter. Others require a prescription from a doctor.
In some people, steroid sprays can slightly improve congestion but are not effective for everyone. Steroid sprays can also cause side effects, such as headaches and nosebleeds.
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Overuse Of Nasal Products
While its true that nasal decongestant sprays relieve congestionthey constrict the blood vessels in the noseyou should avoid prolonged use of over-the-counter nasal sprays, as they can make your symptoms worse if not used as directed.
If you use sprays for an extended period of time, you can become less sensitive to their effects so that your nose becomes swollen again, a condition known as rebound nasal congestion, says Dr. Bains.
As a result, prolonged use of OTC nasal sprays can lead to dependency, adds Dr. Hueston, who recommends that people who use sprays to treat cold symptoms stop after four or five days.
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Why Do People Have Chronic Sinusitis
Sinus infections can start with a virus, a fungus, or bacteria, or it can develop from. Antibiotics will only treat a bacterial infection and this is one reason why sinus infections are difficult to treat.
That leaves your immune system to do the heavy lifting. Thats usually not an issue. But when sinus infections are presented with favorable conditions, symptoms can persist.
In most cases, sinus infections prosper when theres an excess of fluid accumulation in your sinuses. Here are a few reasons why sinus infections may be chronic:
Nasal Polyps: Normally, these little growths in your nasal canal arent a problem. But sometimes, drainage of your sinuses can be blocked by nasal polyps. This excess fluid can cause a sinus infection.
In-home heating: Sinus infections are more widespread during winter. In part, thats because your in-home heating system has a tendency to dry out your air. That dryness can decrease the mucus membranes that normally are the first line of defense against infection.
Deviated nasal septum: If your nasal septum is deviated, you might have trouble thoroughly draining your sinuses. Chronic, significant sinus infections can be the result of this trapped fluid.
Other conditions: There are a number of other conditions which might result in chronic sinus infections, like issues with the immune system, Cystic fibrosis, and others.
What Are The Treatment Options
Sinusitis is treated differently based on the cause. Most cases of acute sinusitis, about 98 percent, are caused by a virus, not bacteria, and should not be treated with antibiotics. Acute viral sinusitis may be treated using pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, steroid nasal sprays, or salt water irrigation in the nose. These treatments are also good options for acute bacterial sinusitis. Most people get better naturally from acute bacterial sinusitis, called watchful waiting, but some patients with acute bacterial sinusitis may get better faster with an antibiotic.
Chronic sinusitis is treated differently than acute sinusitis. Because chronic sinusitis is caused more by inflammation than infection, the treatments for chronic sinusitis aim to control the inflammation. Salt water nasal irrigation and/or nasal steroid sprays are the main treatments for the symptoms of chronic sinusitis. Antibiotics may sometimes be helpful but not always.
Other factors, including allergies, nasal polyps, asthma, and problems with the bodys ability to fight infections, can go along with sinusitis and make it worse unless they are also treated.
X-rays or CT scans of the sinuses are not necessary to diagnose uncomplicated sinusitis if you have the symptoms of sinusitis . If your doctor suspects a complication or if you have repeated episodes or prolonged sinus symptoms, a CT scan of your sinuses may be needed.
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Do I Have Chronic Sinusitis
Sinusitis is when the tissue in the sinus cavities is swollen or inflamed. It can be caused by a few conditions. The most common is a viral infection, such as a cold, that does not go away. Bacteria, allergies, or other causes may be responsible.
Chronic sinusitis, also called chronic rhinosinusitis, is a particularly persistent type of sinusitis. If it lasts for more than 12 weeks, its considered chronic sinusitis, whereas if it is an isolated case that goes away on its own within a few weeks, it is called acute sinusitis .1
Chronic sinusitis can affect your quality of life. It may cause discomfort, trouble breathing through your nose, problems sleeping, and other issues. If you have persistent sinus problems, you may benefit from having them treated by a doctor.
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How Is Chronic Sinusitis Treated
Chronic sinusitis is not usually caused by a bacterial infection, but it can be. If your healthcare provider really thinks that you have a bacterial infection, they might give you a prescription for something like amoxicillin. Antibiotics only help for bacterial infections. Other ways to treat non-bacterial chronic sinusitis include:
- Avoiding triggers .
- Using intranasal corticosteroid sprays and leukotriene antagonists or antifungal medication to get rid of a fungus.
- Treating the underlying condition, such as allergies, asthma, and/or immune deficiency conditions, with medications such as topical antihistamine, or steroid, sprays or antihistamine pills.
- Having surgery . Fungal balls are clumps of fungal infection that block sinuses.
- Having a procedure called balloon sinus ostial dilation, which inserts a balloon into a sinus cavity to open it further and make more room.
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Importance Of Evaluating Recurrent Respiratory Infections
Respiratory infections are sometimes considered more of a nuisance, but its very important to take these seriously and have a thorough exam if there isnt a clear explanation as to why they are occurring. Sometimes this will only require a careful history and physical examination other times a more intensive workup will be needed. Not only can repeated infections cause complications , but a delay in diagnosis is the norm rather than the exception when a cause such as immunodeficiency or lung cancer is present conditions that are most easily treated when caught early.
When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider About Chronic Sinusitis
Remember, your health is your business. You do not have to put up with feeling ill for long periods of time. Pay attention to how long you have sinus symptoms because this is something that your care provider will ask you. Keep track of things that you have done to make yourself feel better. If medications are prescribed, make sure you store them and take them as instructed.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/04/2020.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Chronic Sinus Infection
Chronic sinusitis emerges more insidiously than acute sinusitis. At times, however, the symptoms start suddenly and may resemble that of the common cold or acute sinusitis that just wont go away.
Chronic sinusitis is most likely if you have two or more of the following symptoms:
- Nasal congestion or stuffy nose
- Mucus and pus-like discharge
- Facial pain, pressure around your eyes and nose, or fullness
- Partial or complete loss of your sense of smell
Chronic cough, sore throat, and fatigue may also be seen in a chronic sinus infection. That said, these symptoms are not required for the diagnosis of chronic rhinosinusitis.
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Routines To Avoid Getting Sinus Infections
Avoid over-exposure to household products
There are avoidance routines that you can carry out that may help prevent another sinus infection from reoccurring. Always try to avoid contact with cigarette and cigar smoke from people around you. Another way is avoiding common household products, like hairspray and cleaning products that give off fumes or strong odors. Fumes are known to be irritants to your sinuses and can make your sinus problems worse. You can also avoid exposure to very dry environments. If possible, try to avoid mass transportation, by bus, train and air. When traveling an enclosed area with many people, bacteria and viruses commonly spread and dry air increases the rate they enter your nose. Air travel can also cause significant pressure and blockage to your sinuses. Avoid extended periods of swimming pools with chlorine and activities such as diving if you are prone to sinusitis. Chlorine in the nose irritates the lining of the sinuses and nose. Diving may force water into the sinuses from the nasal passageways. These are some or the ways you can avoid the recurrence of sinus infections or from having the worsening of existing infections.
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Can A Sinus Infection Last For Months
Sinusitis wont go away at the drop of a hat. It tends to linger and, if left untreated, it can last for months. Again, its best to take a trip to your doctors office if your symptoms last longer than one week.
Note that there is a chance that long-term sinus issues may be caused by allergens. If this is the case, then your sinus symptoms will likely last until you can escape the allergen or have the allergies treated.
Whats The Best Medication For A Sinus Infection
Treating a sinus infection depends on its underlying cause. If your sinus infection hasnt improved around day seven, it may be the result of a bacterial infection. In these cases, your doctor will likely write you a prescription for an antibiotic like amoxicillin .
Or, if you have a penicillin allergy, they might choose levofloxacin . Azithromycin was a go-to, but it isnt recommended these days due to high rates of resistant bacteria.
However, most sinus infections arent bacterial, so antibiotics wont work. Often, sinusitis is the result of a virus, nasal polyps causing a blockage, or allergies triggering inflammation. In these cases, treatment should instead center on addressing symptoms and treating the underlying cause.
To help with any soreness and discomfort, take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen . And, you can use a saline rinse or neti pot to help you flush out all that snot and relieve some of the discomfort. Just make sure to use sterile or bottled water instead of tap to avoid other problems like amebic encephalitis thats right, brain-eating amoebas.
For temporary relief of congestion, you can opt for blowing your nose in a steamy shower. Steaming your face with a clean mould-free source, regularly applying a wet and warm cloth to it, and sleeping with a couple of pillows underneath you to elevate your head is also helpful.
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What Causes Sinusitis
Many factors can trigger the inflammation and swelling that blocks sinuses and causes them to fill with purulent drainage , which essentially leads to sinusitis.
The most common of these factors include:
- Upper respiratory infections, typically caused by cold viruses
- Seasonal and environmental allergies, such as pollen or mold allergies
- Noncancerous growths lining your nasal passages and/or sinuses
- Deviated septum or other structural abnormality
- Weakened immune system caused by illness and/or certain medications
Effective treatment for sinusitis requires an accurate diagnosis of which issue or combination of issues is causing your symptoms.
Thus, along with a physical exam, your Petoskey specialist may recommend further diagnostic workup, such as allergy testing as well as MRI or other imaging studies, to help identify the condition triggering your sinusitis.
What You Should Do
Dr. Sedaghat recommends that you treat colds symptomatically. I tell my patients do whatever makes them feel better. Pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help. Home remedies that can improve nasal symptoms include saltwater rinses for the nose, Dr. Sedaghat suggests. He also points out that maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids can help keep your energy levels up.
Sinus infections are treated the same way as a cold. If bacteria cause the infection, antibiotics are an option. But many bacterial sinus infections get better on their own.
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Why You Keep Getting Sinus Infections + Exactly What To Do About It
Throbbing pressure in your head, a congested nose, Kleenex for days nobody thinks sinus infections are a breeze, and yet they affect a whopping 29.4 million of us. But go to a doctor, and what do you get? Cures like over-the-counter sinus medications, pharmaceutical antibiotics, and steroids, all with side effects that can be as bad or worse than the infection itself. Sure, sometimes these medications might be necessary, but the truth is that these mainstream options are over-prescribed and often, they dont have any effect on the actual progression and healing of the infection.
So what does a health-conscious sufferer do about the pressure, pain, congestion, fatigue, and all-around discomfort of a sinus infection? Stop them from happening, thats what! The best way to do this is to discover the most common causes of these infections, so you can correct the underlying problem, rather than just masking the uncomfortable symptoms. Here are the causes, and what you can do about them right now:
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